Monday, February 25, 2013

Practicing Telling (Y)our Story

I'd venture a guess that most parents and grandparents I know want their kids and grandkids to grow up and have faith.  Many of them grew up in the church and have found that experience to be meaningful.  However, I'd also venture a guess that many of these same parents and grandparents are pretty sure they have little or no idea of how to talk to their kids/grandkids about matters of faith.  There are several factors that contribute to this mentality, but I'm only going to name a few. 

For starters, for a long time, people brought their kids to church thinking that it was the church's job to teach the kids about Jesus and faith.  And unfortunately, the church kind of made parents feel like this was the church's job and that the parents didn't know enough to do it themselves.  Of course, there are exceptions to this, but in large part it's true.  Secondly, where I live, somewhere along the line the cultural heritage linked talking about yourself with pride.  So nobody wanted to be caught talking about themselves for fear that it would seem like they were boasting. 

But the thing is, if we want our kids to have faith, we need to buck this trend.  And the truth is, our kids are starving for it--to hear what we believe and why.  They might never say it out loud, but believe me; it's true.  So here's what I suggest we do:
  1. Start small.  One of the easiest and best ways to get your family talking are to share Highs and Lows (also known as Roses and Thorns, Pits and Valleys, etc.).  Take turns letting each person in the family share.  Then take turns sharing where you saw God in your life that day/week.
  2. Give up thinking that you need to have all the answers.  This is a lie and such a hindrance to having a meaningful conversation with your child.  Instead, ask questions.  Admit you're wondering about that yourself.  Grab your Bible and see what your child and you discover together.
  3. Utilize resources.  You are not on your own and you do not have to reinvent the wheel!  Some of my favorite resources for sharing faith at home are:
    1. Faith Talk Cards-- I think every parent should get a set of these and give one to grandparents as well.  Then, when you sit down together as a family for a meal or while you are driving in the car or eating in a restaurant, all you have to do is pull out a card and everyone answers the question.  You never know where the conversation might lead! (Depending on the age of your kids, you might check out Faith Talk with Children cards instead.)
    2. How Big is God?  This is a great book to add to your collection and read often as a family.
    3. Taking Faith Home Bulletin Inserts-- talk to your pastor about ordering these for your congregation.  They include questions for conversation, activities, and service project ideas that all relate to the scripture texts used in worship on Sunday (for those congregations that follow the lectionary). 
When it comes down to it, the important thing is to just do it.  As with most things in life, there are plenty of excuses we can make of why we aren't well-enough prepared, how this isn't the right time, or we're just not ready.  But we make time for the things that matter most to us, and I would argue that few things are as important as passing on a vibrant and living faith to our kids.  And like someone wise once said...

"A year from now you will have wished you had started today."  
Karen Lamb

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